Michigan Advance wins second in 2019 Newspaper of the Year*

Publication nets 19 awards in Michigan Press Association contest

The Michigan Advance staff (L-R): Allison Donahue, Susan J. Demas, Madeline Ciak, Laina G. Stebbins and Ken Coleman.
Updated, 6:15 p.m., 3/12/20

The Michigan Advance came in second in the 2019 Newspaper of the Year in its circulation category by the Michigan Press Association (MPA). The nonprofit politics and policy outlet began publishing four months into the yearlong contest. The first place finisher is the Advance out of Blissfield, which the MPA’s Lisa McGraw said accounted for confusion.*

In total, the Advance took home 19 awards spanning 10 news categories for Class D weekly publications. Editor-in-Chief Susan J. Demas was named Best Columnist; Demas and former Assistant Editor Nick Manes won first place for Best Government/Education News Story; and former Assistant Editor Derek Robertson won second place in the special category of Best Coverage of the Suicide Epidemic and Awareness of the issue.

Susan J. Demas

The annual contest ran from Aug. 1, 2018, through July 31, 2019. The Michigan Advance began publishing on Dec. 4, 2018, with Demas, a 19-year journalism veteran at the helm. The Advance has a staff of five journalists and two reporting interns and is one of 15 publications part of States Newsroom, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

“As the new kid on the block, this is an incredible honor and an unexpected one for the Michigan Advance. It’s a testament to our extremely talented journalists who work tirelessly to tell important stories about people, policy and politics — not just in Lansing, but all across Michigan,” said Demas. “I want to thank the Michigan Press Association for recognizing our work, from reporting to photography to website design.”

The MPA announced its awards Thursday morning after canceling its annual convention in Dearborn Thursday and Friday due to concerns over COVID-19. In addition, Demas’ photo of the Michigan Capitol is one of four winners of the MPA’s photo directory contest and will appear on the cover.

The following is a list of all the MPA awards for the Advance:

  • Newspapers of the Year, Weekly/News Media Publication, Class D, Second Place.
  • Best Columnist, First Place, Susan J. Demas: “I thought I was done with journalism. I was wrong. Here’s why.”
  • Best Columnist, Third Place, Susan J. Demas: “John Engler, living embodiment of toxic masculinity.”
  • Best Newspaper Design, Honorable Mention, Susan J. Demas, Nelle Dunlap and Joe Wright.
  • Government/Education News Story, First Place, Nick Manes and Susan J. Demas, “Whitmer wants to fix the damn roads. Citizens wonder why the last tax hike wasn’t enough.”
  • Best Coverage of the Suicide Epidemic and Awareness of the issue in Michigan, Second Place, Derek Robertson, “Study: Deaths of despair could drop with EITC, minimum wage boosts.”
  • Business/Agriculture News Story, First Place, Nick Manes, Michael Gerstein and Ken Coleman, “Are ‘incredibly conservative’ tax incentives worth it for $4.5B Fiat Chrysler deal?”
  • Business/Agriculture News Story, Second Place, Nick Manes,”Whitmer wants to close skills gap, but some experts call it a lie.”
  • Business/Agriculture News Story, Honorable Mention, Nick Manes, “As local governments lose millions from dark stores, legislators seek fix.”
  • Feature Photo, Third Place, Ken Coleman, “Cobo Center new name game: Detroiters suggest Louis, Parks, Franklin.”
  • Feature Photo, Honorable Mention, Ken Coleman, “Bill aims to end racial discrimination based on hairstyle.”
  • Feature Story, Second Place, Susan J. Demas, “Barnes-storming: Veteran Democratic organizer is frontrunner to lead party in ’19.”
  • News Enterprise Reporting, First Place, Michael Gerstein, “Oscoda residents vent to Air Force brass about PFAS worries.”
  • News Enterprise Reporting, Second Place, Ken Coleman, “Michigan State Police is a long way from true diversity, critics say.”
  • News Enterprise Reporting, Third Place, Nick Manes, “How to build a better Michigan House map.”
  • News Enterprise Reporting, Honorable Mention, Susan J. Demas and Derek Robertson, “Pro-LGBTQ officials running Michigan is a sea change.”
  • Spot News Story, Third Place, Michael Gerstein, “AG to open hate crime unit amid surge in Michigan extremist groups.”
  • News Photo, Second Place, Michael Gerstein, “The MSU campus after interim President John Engler’s resignation.”
  • News Photo, Honorable Mention, Michael Gerstein, “State police officer rides bike in the snow near the Capitol even during a state weather emergency.”
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Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.